I have written before that co-ops and similar ventures are part of the rich tapestry of a market economy. After all, before the days of statutory regulation, the Stock Exchange was a mutual – you can’t get closer to the market economy than that. Co-ops and mutuals certainly have their limitations – access to capital and corporate governance being the two main ones. People complain about profit-making banks being owned by shareholders but mutuals can be captured by management and pay poor interest rates to savers and co-ops can be captured by a senior management clique without any possibility of facilitating change. There is a big literature on all this and I hope that Osborne’s team has read it. Neverthelessm, mutuals and co-ops definitely have their place. Three cheers for George Osborne’s attempts to create co-ops in the public sector
then? Not yet.